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"Welcome to the home front, young lady."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Movies like "In This Corner of the World" would like to sneak up on the audience, but that's almost impossible; the end of World War II had been thoroughly covered in history class and in film, and if you're watching this one, you've probably seen the story of the Japanese homefront covered (unless you're young, but I'm not showing it to my nieces). It's probably for the best, then, that it softens the emotional hammer blow that many films of its genre aim for, and not necessarily as a result of being animated, though it would be a shame to use these filmmakers' talents entirely, or even mostly, for graphic misery." (more)
"Does okay getting something started, but very much an "episode 1"."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Even when manga adaptations like "Tokyo Ghoul" start to seem like they are covering the same territory - it's not hard to read the description in the festival program and think "wait, didn't we just have two 'Parasyte' movies last year?" - they at least tend to have enough off-center to not just be another secret-monster-society riff with slight difference. Even this one, which comes pretty close to being familiar mopey-vampire fare, it occasionally gets just weird enough to be worth it." (more)
"Chinese crime, European scenery."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "It's kind of fun to have a car chase with Shu Qi doing some reckless driving in Cannes near the start of "The Adventurers"; as big a star as she is in the China region, her biggest stab at the world audience was "The Transporter" fifteen years ago, and it's fun to have her outside the trunk for director Stephen Fung's stab at doing something like a Besson-produced medium-sized action movie, even if he's not quite enough to elevate this star-studded picture out of the time-passer category." (more)
"What seems like a poor simulation becomes worth close examnation."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Marjorie Prime" doesn't seem like much to start (and seems misnamed to boot), a strange case featuring a director whose previous film seemed much more ambitious and a cast where many had been a big deal not so long ago only able to scrape together enough to do something that looks amateurish and flat. It never really escapes the shackles of its stage-bound roots - it even feels like the lights go down between acts - but by the end, that's something an audience may be willing to talk itself into as a positive, that a lack of filmic flourish allows the ideas to stand on their own." (more)
"Magic Mike Is The Bandit"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "“Logan Lucky” marks the first time that Steven Soderbergh has directed a feature film since announcing his “retirement” in 2013 following the release of “Side Effects.” Now four years may not seem like that long of a “retirement”—there are people with active careers who take that much time between projects—but for someone who had been averaging a film or two a year for more than a decade or so prior to his departure, there must have been some concern on his part about getting back into the groove again that not even the extensive work he did for cable television during that time (which included directing the acclaimed film “Behind the Candelabra” and every episode of “The Knick” as well as producing a number of series that included an adaptation of his film “The Girlfriend Experience”) could completely alleviate. As it turns out, those worries were for nothing because within just a few minutes, it becomes clear that not only is Soderbergh back, he has returned in peak form with an utterly delightful riff on the caper film, a genre that he has had great success with in the past with the “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy, that is one of the most sheerly entertaining works of his career to date." (more)
"A.K.A. Two Guys, A Girl And A Really Shitty Movie"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "I have always had a sneaking suspicion that if you took the films that Samuel L. Jackson has made throughout his career and counted up the number of times that he says fuck” in each one, you would find that in most cases, the higher the “fuck” count, the lower the overall quality. Granted, this isn’t always the case—Lord knows he drops one F-bomb after another in his various collaborations with Quentin Tarantino and those films are all pretty much aces as far as I am concerned. In the case of the Tarantino films, however, the scripts also contain interesting storylines, creative narrative approaches, fully fleshed-out characters and the kind of dialogue that is so wonderfully phrased and delivered that you want to savor every word, even those of the four-letter variety. Most of the time, however, these films tend to be dregs because they are utterly lacking any redeeming or memorable qualities to speak of and the filmmakers, with nothing left to offer, simply opt to have Jackson act like a Tourette’s victim in order to score cheap laughs from those in the audience who still find vulgar language to be inherently funny. A good case in point—though not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination—is his latest vehicle, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” a painfully wretched, gruesomely violent and artlessly vulgar action-comedy that is so devoid of genuine entertainment value that anyone not harboring a bizarre sense of nostalgia for the Brett Ratner oeuvre will find themselves wondering how it could have possibly gotten made in the first place, let alone attracted a number of excellent actors to deliver some of the most nondescript performances of their careers." (more)
"Two takes on one idea trying to come together."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Replace" has a creepy, au courant premise for a horror movie about a woman afraid of losing her looks to the aging process - in fact it's got two, and that may be its biggest issue - though the two attack the same idea, they do so from decidedly opposite directions, and combining the two, as necessary as it seems for the plot, often has the movie feeling like it's at cross-purposes, and not in a way that creates interesting moral ambiguity." (more)
"A beautiful, if sometimes silly, fairy-tale romance."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The trouble with reviewing something like "Once Upon a Time" on a platform that is pretty much all words is that sometimes a movie's story can be utterly ridiculous and its dialogue (at least in subtitle form) inartful at best, and it's easy to point that out, whereas the argument for the movie is "just LOOK at this thing!" It's a fantasy romance of rare visual splendor, maybe just enough to overcome all of the other very real problems it has." (more)
"Because you've got to get to the important moments and back."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""A Taxi Driver" ends with the traditional footage of a real-life person portrayed in the movie from many years later, and though it's a bit of a cliche, it also acknowledges that while the story may at times seem a little too good to be true, there's apparently enough to it to be worth buying into. There may be liberties taken in the making of this film, but there's more than a bit genuine at its core, and it's a quality film as well as an important true story." (more)
"Title is accurate, even if it looks like it should be grim."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Whether the Safdie Brothers explicitly intended to make something that feels like 1970s cinema right down to the dirtier, more desperate side of New York taking the fore or whether the just got there naturally from starting from the same place with the same goals, "Good Time" manages the neat trick of seeming like a throwback to that era without ever coming across as an imitation. It's got a vitality to it that comes from not being so obviously controlled, but never gets so shaggy that it's not moving forward." (more)

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